Last Word on sales tax increase, March 3

Sales tax increase

The only hope this area has to stop SB942 from becoming law is for residents to contact Gov. Northam, encouraging him to veto the bill. If that is unsuccessful, we need to contact all James City County supervisors and Williamsburg City Council members, as the bill is contingent on certain actions at the local level. Kudos to Del. Pogge and Del. Mullin for opposing this bill.

Why are residents of James City County being asked to pay more to support the area? Their tax rate is 84 cents while the city of Williamsburg's is 57 cents.

I don’t think that some people around here realize we’re already paying 1 percent higher tax than everywhere in the state other than Northern Virginia. Everywhere else it is 5 percent. We already pay 6 percent and Sen. Tommy Norment wants us to pay 7 percent. Spending more money to try to attract tourists here may not even work because you have to have something they want to see or do before they’ll come here. To many people these days, a history vacation is not what they want. If CW closes off the restored area to casual nonpaying visitors, I think even fewer people will visit. So we locals will shoulder the extra tax for a scheme that will only make some advertising agency rich and us poorer.

If Tommy Norment's tax becomes law, I will do most of my shopping in Richmond and save 2 percent (road tax and tourist tax) on my taxes. I will also work to see him retire when he runs for reelection.

Before you raise any taxes, cuts should be the first method of controlling costs. That said, if taxes need to be increased, I’d rather have a higher sales tax shared by tourists than have my property taxes increased.

Why are legislators so afraid to make visitors spend a little more rather than make us locals foot the bill? When we visited Pennsylvania and stayed in a modest Hampton Inn last year for $136 a night, there was an additional $22 in local and state taxes added on. And here they are wanting to take away the $2 transient tax per night? People who travel in other areas pay some pretty hefty taxes to stay and see what they want to — why not make them do the same here rather than make retired people pay more for their personal needs?

From now forward, the Virginia sales tax should be called the “Norment tax.”

As a taxpayer, I have an additional suggestion to the proposal for raising the real estate taxes and a new admissions tax for the city of Williamsburg: eliminate the commissioner of revenue. With a population of approximately 15,000 people, why is it necessary to have a commissioner of revenue? The position could be eliminated and the duties placed under the Finance Department, which would prove to be a substantial savings for the city of Williamsburg, as well as the state of Virginia.

The Historic Triangle won't be seeing any increased sales taxes from us, as we will now do the bulk of our shopping and dining in New Kent and Mechanicsville. A short sighted move by Sen. Norment, as this will hurt area merchants and restaurant operators. We will vote with our feet until we can vote for new representation.

I am having a hard time trying to figure out the logic and reasoning for the legislation and find the underlying intent somewhat troubling. There are way too many questions to be answered as well as overall accountability on how the funds will be distributed and for what purpose. Something isn't passing the smell test here.

Just so everyone knows, Tommy Norment’s sales tax increase bill 942 passed on Wedesday, Feb. 28. Sen. Mason voted yes. Delegates Pogge and Mullin voted no — thank you both for your backbone and honesty. The only way to stop the bill now is to call Gov. Northam and ask him to veto the bill. Reach him at 804-786-2211. Please call.

Parking space

James City, I pay more than $2,000 a year to keep my boat at the marina, plus fees and taxes. I expect a place to park when I get there. Fix this issue now before the problem gets much worse.

School shooting, guns

I encourage anyone who believes that “it’s not the AR (assault rifle)” to read the article at http://theatln.tc/2owYIzB. It describes in very graphic detail how it is indeed the AR.

Three cheers to Dick’s Sporting Goods for its decision not to sell AR-15 assault-type rifles or high-capacity magazines and its new rule that all gun buyers be 21, regardless of state law. The majority of Americans support Dick’s decision. Now, everyone, please go buy something at Dick’s to thank them.

I went to school here 30 years ago, and even then we had security guards in the halls, the occasional pat-downs and security checks, schedules to make sure students were constantly under eye. I felt like I was in a prison. The thing is, when you treat children like they are in prison, they're going to act like prisoners. I keep seeing proposals for more and heavier security in schools, and the more security you put in schools, the more children are going to feel disrespected and the more behavior problems you're going to see. Teachers with guns and security guards in every classroom are not going to make children any more secure, and what's worse it will make them feel much less secure.

Arming teachers as a solution to the slaughter of students in the United States is akin to opening drive-through bars as a solution to drunk driving.

Canadians have mental illness, but they do not have a mass shooting problem. They have an absence of God in their schools, but they do not have a mass shooting problem. They have divorce and broken families, but they do not have a mass shooting problem. They have atheism, but they do not have a mass shooting problem. They have alcohol and drug addictions, but they do not have a mass shooting problem. They have strict gun laws and they do not have a mass shooting problem.

It is time to return to the American Values demonstrated in WWII. We need bipartisan actions to insure the safety for our students, citizens and schools, secured borders from illegals and foreign aggressors, with every dollar spent for the common good. Think how great it would be to make the “American Dream” a reality again, in our community and the country.

No one, especially gun owners, needs the NRA. The Second Amendment has never been in danger of being rescinded from the U.S. Constitution. It would be a horrendous effort if anyone even tried. The majority of people only want sensible gun laws to help prevent guns getting into the hands of violent people, and they are not trying to take legal guns away from nonviolent people. These have been scare tactics used by the NRA to keep the money coming. NRA exists not to support gun owners, but to lobby for gun manufacturers. Ask any family member or friend who is a member of the NRA to consider canceling their membership, as the corporations did. They know what is going on.

Let's see, our courthouses, airports, aircraft, most large commercial businesses (in big cities), the president, other political leaders and many public figures, etc., are protected with security, and holy smokes, even guns. Why do schools not deserve the same level of protection? We are required by law to use seat belts in our motor vehicles. Why is it then that most school buses in Virginia have no seat belts? Don't school children deserve the same protections afforded the rest of us? Obviously, we still have the best politicians money can buy.

The FBI should invite Donald Trump out to its training facility at Quantico, give him a paint gun and have him shoot only the FBI agent wearing an orange jump suit out of a group of 10 agents milling about. That demonstration would put the argument about arming teachers to bed forever. Hitting one out of 10 in a calm event would be much simpler then hitting one out of 100 in a panicked mob.

I am saddened by the shooting in Florida and all the other places that have been victimized by such tragedies. But, now hear this! Drugs are illegal and if I want them, I am going to get them. No matter what gun "controls" you enact, if someone wants a gun, illegal or not, they will get one. It is not the guns that are causing the problems.

In Saturday’s Gazette, I noticed the school budget was to be increased, with a 3 percent increase in teachers’ pay. If the teachers feel so strongly about their students’ safety, why not use that money for metal detectors and armed guards?

To those saying arm the teachers, a few things to keep in mind: Teachers are already extremely underpaid and budget cuts prevent cost-of-living raises. But let’s add the responsibility of a gun in the classroom with no raise. Guns cost money. Who buys these for the teachers, who aren’t getting a raise? Ammo costs money. Who buys this for the teachers, who aren’t getting raise? Training costs money. Should we replace professional development in reading and math with active shooter training? Teachers have dedicated their lives to children. Most of these shooters are children. You are asking teachers to shoot children. Armed officers did not protect the children in Florida, yet you are asking untrained teachers who believe they can help children to have more courage than those with the training to do so. It just doesn’t make sense.

Finally someone with a brain stated why isn’t anyone placing the blame on the shooter. It seems everyone always wants to blame other people or things when in fact it’s the person committing the crime that’s the problem.

The people making a strict interpretation of the Second Amendment and the right to bear arms should be allowed to carry the same type of gun available when the Second Amendment was passed. That would strictly interpret it.

It is time for Gov. Ralph Northam to start doing what we elected him to do, that is, to protect the people of Virginia. He can start by banning all assault weapons. He can start by banning all gun shows in the Commonwealth of Virginia. And the thought of arming teachers in the schools to protect our students is ludicrous. Can you imagine or visualize a bunch of teachers in the hallway, in close-quarter combat and a shootout with a gunman? Please! Let the James City County Police Department do their job. They do it very well and they’re all trained how to handle these situations. Thank you.

Gas prices

How come? Today at Costco, gas costs $2.12 for regular and $2.44 for premium. In Williamsburg, it is $2.27 for regular and $3.05 for premium, equivalent quality. (Remember the off-brand stations do not put detergent in their fuel. That’s why it’s cheaper and bad for engines.) Someone’s getting a bad deal.

Great performance

Elizabeth Wiley directed “Metamorphoses” based on the myths of Ovid on W&M’s PBK Hall Main Stage Feb. 22-25. It was written and originally directed by Mary Zimmerman. Sunday’s performance was one of the best I have ever seen. The ensemble of 12 William and Mary actors performed Joan Gavaler’s choreography and Elizabeth Wiley’s blocking with grace and skill. The scenic design by Matt Aller and Brian Saxton’s sets/pool were perfect. Patricia Wesp’s costumes, the music by Christopher Colucci, Roger Price’s sound design and Steve Holiday’s lighting design were exquisite.

Road worries

To the person that called into the Last Word about the light at Governor Berkeley and Richmond Road: They should call VDOT.

Anybody complaining about the speed on Fenton Mill Road doesn’t have to complain today, on Saturday. Because it’s time for the yearly bike race that inconveniences all the people of Croaker for no good reason. Something that doesn’t pay any revenue to the roads makes the car drivers who pay revenue have to be inconvenienced. Why don’t they go use the $75 million, 50-mile bike path to Richmond?

Now that the Peloton has spent Saturday clogging the roads in Croaker, I think the riders should give back to the community by doing a litter pickup along the route they rode.

Olympic discovery

We watched curling for the first time ever during the Winter Olympics and are hooked. What an elegant, precise sport; the strategy is awesome. The women's teams were especially graceful. We couldn't get enough.

Recommended

We recently had a couple of huge oaks removed from our backyard. After getting several estimates, we decided to use Affordable Tree Service. Jerry, the owner, and his crew were friendly, courteous and professional. He gave us a great price quote and delivered on his promises. He thought it would take one day, but due to complications out of his control it took three. Despite the extra time, he honored his bid and went out of his way to ensure we were happy with the job. Give him a call at 757-755-0446.

Just had two large crepe myrtle trees pruned by Southern Blue lawn service. Chris Henderson and his very capable crew, Nick and Tyler, did a great job. Their phone number is 757-570-2970. Highly recommend.

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